For any run-of-the-mill 11th overall pick, it’s an exorbitant overpay. But it's highway robbery if Fields ever lives up to lofty expectations as the No. 3 overall player on PFF’s draft board.
Whatever the case, the chances of us knowing the result doesn’t seem likely anytime soon. While there will almost certainly be a rush to discredit or crown the young quarterback after each subsequent performance, it’s simply not that easy to tell for rookie quarterbacks.
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The learning curve is different for every quarterback in the NFL. Josh Allen was one of the lowest-graded quarterbacks in the league until he was suddenly one of the highest in Year 3. Ryan Tannehill never figured it out until a change of scenery in Year 8. On the flip side, Marcus Mariota impressed early in his career but never made a meaningful next step.
However, the common thread between all franchise-type quarterbacks in the NFL is improvement. No one comes into the NFL a finished product, and NFL fans are actually watching that play out first-hand this season with a “generational” type of prospect in Trevor Lawrence.
That’s why, with Fields, it doesn’t particularly matter where he’s at in his ugly first career start. Instead, it’s where he ends up when he’s comfortable with the speed of the NFL game and he's put in a situation to succeed.
To truly analyze Fields’ massive improvement from his first start to his 75.5 overall grade against the Detroit Lions this past weekend, one must first know who he was as a passer at Ohio State.
Here’s a look at his pros and cons from the 2021 draft guide: